Teenage pregnancies and early marriages continue to be a major concern as one in every 10 young girls between the ages of 15-19 falls pregnant each year, according to findings from a study released early this year.

Zimbabwe faces an uphill task to reduce the burden of teenage pregnancies to 12 percent from the current 22 percent within the next three years.

Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council assistant director for evaluation and research Mr Lovejoy Gamba says in 2012, health authorities made a commitment to halve teenage pregnancies by 2020, but to date only 2 percent progress has been achieved.

Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and Matabeleland North provinces remain problematic areas.

Investigations by the ZBC News in Manicaland province highlighted the extent of this challenge as evidenced by the large number of young mothers at waiting mothers shelters.

With statistics from the national teenage fertility study showing that between 500 000 and 700 000 teenage pregnancies are being recorded in the country, these statistics are worrying and they place the country highest within the sub-Saharan region.

Medical authorities in Manicaland province attribute the upsurge in teenage pregnancies to the rise of gold and diamond mining activities which has exposed the young girlsĀ  in the most affected parts of the province that include Hotsprings, Mutsvangwa, Rusitu and Muchadziya.

While the country is targeting to reduce its maternal and neo-natal mortality figures to more sustainable figures, such efforts may ring hollow if teenage pregnancies remain high.

Teenage pregnancy rarely has a happy ending for most young girls as it places them at high risk of dying during child birth, let alone being exposed to health complications later in their lives.